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Women’s Health at Work

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Cancer, Chemicals, Construction, Health care, Personal Protective Equipment, Service Sector, Stress, Transportation, Violence, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Women

 

This week is Women’s Health Week. With over 58% of U.S. women in the labor force[i], the workplace must be considered when looking at women’s overall health.   We must keep in mind that susceptibility to hazards can be different for men and women.  Additionally, women face different workplace health challenges than men partly because men and women tend to have different kinds of jobs. Women generally have more work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, and anxiety and stress disorders.  Social, economic, and cultural factors also put women at risk for injury and illness.  While workplace exposures can affect both male and female reproduction, issues related to reproduction and pregnancy are of particular concern to women.  Below you will find summaries, with links to more research, of some hazards faced by women in the workplace as well as links to industry-specific research from NIOSH  that relates to women.   More information is available on the NIOSH topic page Women’s Safety and Health Issues at Work.

Hypertension and Low Wages

Categories: At-risk Populations, Manufacturing, Stress, Women

If workers earning low wages didn’t have enough stressors in their lives, they can now add hypertension to the list.  Our new research finds that low wages are a risk factor for hypertension among working people.  The research was recently published in the European Journal of Public Health, “Are Low Wages Risk Factors for Hypertension?”, and was partially funded by NIOSH. 

Whereas low Socio-economic status (SES) has been linked to hypertension, the reasons why are unclear.  This is the first study to examine wages, the largest component of income (one part of SES), as a risk factor for hypertension.  Why is this important?  Wages are an indicator of job quality and may be linked to feelings of self worth.  Low wages can also create financial stress for families that find themselves short of funds to pay for rent, electricity, heat, and gas for their cars.  Additionally, there are steps policy makers can take to adjust wages.   For example, governments can raise minimum wages, make it easier for unions to organize,  and increase  the pay of low-wage government workers. 

Stress and Health in Law Enforcement

Categories: Emergency Response/Public Sector, Stress

Earlier this month the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health released a special issue highlighting research from the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) study and from related studies of morbidity and mortality among police officers. The BCOPS study is an investigation of the early or subclinical health consequences of stress in police officers and examines associations between a variety of officer exposures and outcomes including stress, shift work, traumatic incidents, lifestyle factors, stress biomarkers, body measures, and subclinical metabolic and cardiovascular disease.

NIOSH Research on Work Schedules and Work-related Sleep Loss

Categories: Emergency Response/Public Sector, Health care, Manufacturing, Mining, Motor Vehicle Safety, Sleep, Stress, Total Worker Health, Transportation, Women

Yesterday, in honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, we blogged about sleep and work and the risks to workers, employers, and the public when workers’ hours and shifts do not allow for adequate sleep.   This blog provides a brief overview of some of the work that NIOSH intramural scientists are carrying out to better understand these risks and ways to prevent them.

Nurses/Reproduction Issues/Shift Work

NIOSH studies are examining shift work and physical demands with respect to adverse pregnancy outcome among nurses, specifically the association between work schedule and risk of spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, and menstrual function.  This research was the first to look at shift work and pregnancy in U. S. nurses.  NIOSH researchers are collaborating with the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which is the largest, ongoing prospective study of nurses. Results have shown that an increased risk of several reproductive outcomes, including spontaneous abortion, early preterm birth, and menstrual cycle irregularities, are related to shift work, particularly working the night shift.

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